Wednesday, 30 June 2010

New New New!!!

This week the postman has been knocking at least once a day with my favourite USPS envelopes in hand!

I have had a bit of a re stash in readiness for a summer of full-on creative fun. So far my summer sewing plans include; Laurie Wisbrun's Tufted Tweets

Heather Ross' Far Far Away II (where is the rest of my fabric from this line Mr Postman? Am starting to worry!)

Cosmo Crickets Early Bird ( you really did have to be an early bird for this on the Hawthorne Threads site, it was sold out in a flash!)

A fantastic Wine Gums inspired collection of colour

I have lots of swirling ideas for each of these little bundles of promise. I find that the 15mins-each-way, twice-a-day walk to school is the perfect time for cogitation, quiet baby in the buggy watching the world go by, sun shining and mind whirling, anyway off I go to school again, just 3 more weeks of idea generation before the summer holidays begin!

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Do you Have Plans for the Summer?

It's that time of the year, the 'do you have plans for the summer?' conversation crops up a lot. The sun is shining, we're all counting down to the end of term, sports days and village fetes and holidays to pack for.

I have a lot of non-plans for the summer, I don't want 'playdates' and organised clubs, I don't want the kids to have to do anything at all. I love non-plans, I love the promise of the day stretching ahead where there's really nothing much that needs to be done, perhaps a little baking, a potter in the garden, maybe we'll scooter down to the park, feed the ducks, take a walk in the woods. But mostly we will potter, pootle, muddle about, make dens, play games, do projects like last years epic 'make a working cable car from the top of the slide to the football net for the playmobile people'.

....and whilst the kids have their fun, mummy has some quilty pleasures planned of her own. Three quilts all based and ready to hand stitch lazily whilst dallying in a deckchair

The handsewn-hexagon project rumbles on.....

And a lot of very exciting new fabric to turn into quilts over the summer, which I will show you tomorrow.......yummy!

Saturday, 26 June 2010

I'm a Little Folks Winner! Yipeee!

Look what the postman bought me today, unexpected mail is the most fantastic isn't it?! A delicious parcel of ready cut Little Folks squares that I won in a giveaway on the Izzy Inspired Blog last week. I was SO happy to win this. I don't know why, but it took me ages to fold and buy my first stash of Little Folks. I think I was a bit intimidated by the Voile and the gloriously clashy colours (and the price). But when I did buy some I ADORED it. I made this quilt, and some scarves, and then it was gone! I decided I need to re stash ( I have learnt to lay down like good wine my favourite fabrics, I am a Flea Market Fancy veteran with sadly empty shelves of the coveted prints!). I entered this giveaway and I won! It's like Izzy knew just how much I loved it and how I still had other Little Folks quilts inside that needed to come out. I think I will do a Film in the Fridge inspired one with these..........but if I use them I'll be without again.......Thank you Izzy Inspired!

Thursday, 24 June 2010

In Praise of Hex's and Handsewing

I have been away from home and my sewing machine a lot over the last few weeks as I have been travelling backwards and forwards across the country visiting my Dad in hospital and my Mum alone at home without him. It's been a pretty upsetting and unsettling few weeks. In the past when people ask me where I find the time to make quilts, I laughingly tell them it keeps me sane. When life is a bit uphill, sewing really does do that for me, it's critical. On another long journey in the car I got to wondering why.

My project of choice has been hand sewing these gorgeous curved hexagon blocks ( they're missing the final bits that makes them hexagonal at the moment!), carrying the pieces pre cut with me, in my little sewing pouch, stitching, stitching whenever I get 5 mins, whenever it all feels a bit overwhelming, when the anxiety starts to creep in, when my mind starts to worry and whirl. The comfort of hand stitching, the rhythmic, unthinking repetition is so soothing. The small thrill in seeing a block come to life through your stitches, just a small happy moment in a lot of dark worry and stress. The joy of making something by hand is elemental. Before I made things I didn't feel a lack of it, now I make, I can't live without it.

There is also something so timeless about stitching, generations of women have found this same solace in quiet, unobtrusive stitching, slowly making objects full of love and thought and contemplation. My Dad is finally on the mend and normal life can start to take over again. Thank you Quilting for sustaning me.

p.s These stars will eventually be hexagonal. I made them using a cutting template from here, cut with a 28mm rotary blade and sewn by hand, it's a great traveling project if you're planning a holiday (more fun than a hospital visit!)

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Come On England!

My boys are big,huge, football fans, huge. My Little Man said he wanted England bunting. Being a bit picky on the nylon front I couldn't bring myself to buy the flimsy nasty stuff at the petrol station for a tenner. I figured I'd make some. Little Man loved it, but Big Man said it was a bit 'Cath Kidston Football Bunting'. I don't think thats a good thing if you like your football, but heh, I took it as a compliment and I can just about bear it up in my sitting room for the next few weeks! Come on England!

Monday, 21 June 2010

Little Town Quilt Top - Construction Complete!

I have had such fun making this quilt. It's often the way that the projects that have had the least analysis ( and so are invested of the least expectation) are the most fun to work on. You may remember that I started this quilt top when I had an earache in the half term holidays. I started piecing houses just using my rotary cutter, a pile of solids and a needle and thread. As I have added to my little town each little house has become a character in it's own right. My kids like to 'work out' which house in our village its based on as we walk to school and the local shop! I have included our much loved but sadly outgrown old house, a tall thin Victorian villa, and our new house, an initially unloved but now transformed 1950's self confident sturdy kind of a place, I also included my sons dream house, a wigwam; and my daughters, a thatched cottage or a toadstool fairy ring;I'm totally in love with this quilt. But I now have to decide how to back and bind, but most importantly how to quilt it. I am completely at a loss as the original had the most exquisite teeny tiny detailed but machine quilted stitches in little shapes to match the houses as if as a shadow in the white areas. I am a dedicated hand quilter, but the density of stitching needed to recreate that kind of an effect would take me a year or more! I am considering branching out for the first time and paying someone to machine quilt it for me...what do you think?

Monday, 14 June 2010


My little town is gradually growing, but more slowly than I would like. Construction has been rather an unwelcome theme in my family this month. My poor dad has suffered cement burns whilst doing some construction and so life is a bit upside down at the moment and blogging is down the list, even if some therapeutic hospital bedside sewing is getting done. Cement burns are poorly publicised, but so dangerous. Anyone coming into contact with wet cement can have an alkali necrosis of the skin ( it basically eats away, taking the moisture from within the tissue). What is so hideous is that you don't always realise it is happening until its too late. So concrete, unnoticed, splashing down a boot, or seeping through the knees of work trousers is so easily done, do warn anyone who might be planning a bit of DIY that this can happen. Hopefully dad is on the mend, I'm finding sewing houses better for the physical and mental health than building them, I may suggest it to him too!

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

The House(s) That Deb Built

I have a bit of a blogjam of things to show you after last weeks blogless state. I need to catch you up on my Broken Circles quilt progress (or non progress! more on that one to come!). I want to show you the gorgeous Little Folks Scarf I made for myself last week, and the Mini version Little Miss MakeDo made for herself too. But today I thought I would show you how I spent the three long days last week with earache.

You know the state : too-ill-to-do-anything-but-not-so-ill-it-doesn't-seem-wrong-to-sit-on-the-sofa-without-a-project-kind of poorly. So I needed something not too taxing. I saw this quilt last year at the Festival of Quilts at the Birmingham NEC and I have had a little blurry picture of it on my pinboard for a year. I just loved this quilt when I saw it, isn't it wonderful? It was only when I looked back at this picture properly last week I realised I had done the same binding on my ColourWheel Quilt, isn't subconscious influence fascinating? Ingrid Press who made it is elusive in the online world so I can't tell you much more about her work I'm afraid, but her quilts were sublime. Really elegant and so controlled.

I have a pile of solids that I have been amassing for ages with the half formed plan to do something modern but Amish (yes I know that plan obviously needs more work and less contradictions!), but it occurred to me that the colours would look great for my houses.

I loved making these blocks. I free pieced each little house with a rough guide to making the centre house bit approx 4inches by 4inches to sit within a final 12inch square block ( I'm still not sure about the too much white/not enough white balance on my version of this quilt. I'm not sure I have Ingrids minimalist discipline when it comes to colour). Anyone planning a holiday over the summer, this would be the perfect portable project, all you need are a few scraps of fabric, needle, thread and cutter and the hours just slide by in childlike concentration. It really is the sewing-mummy equivalent to drawing towns and colouring them in.........something the kids enjoyed whilst I sewed, hot water bottle tied to my ear by my LittleFolks scarf (picture the scene!)

Monday, 7 June 2010

The American Museum in Bath

Well I have been rather absent due to an unfortunately combination of earaches and other family health dramas. But as an attempt to claw back some rest and recreation in our half term week we set off to the ancient spa town of Bath to take the waters.

If you've visited Bath before you will agree that it is just the most wonderful town. It's just elegance incarnate. Every perfectly designed regency house built in soft warm yellow sandstone with its elaborate but restrained wrought iron balconies and window boxes, is a joy to behold. Bath makes you feel like the rest of us really need to make a bit more effort, but in a nice polite way. And that's before you factor in the Roman Baths, the wonderful River Avon winding through the countryside to be crossed by the beautiful and very un-English Poultney Bridge. It fair makes one want to be holding a fashionable parasol and wearing kid leather gloves as one wanders about!

Our health was much restored, and Bath was wonderful, but the highlight of our trip was a day at the American Museum. This gem of a museum is housed in a former stately home Claverton Manor, set high up in the hills looking down over the most breathtakingly unspoilt valley. The museum is a great day out for kids and adults alike. We knew we were on to a winner as my daughters face lit up at the wagon parked outside (she is a HUGE house on the Prairie fan). Inside the museum we enjoyed visiting an authentic Saloon bar, a Quaker house, a southern belles bedroom, each room set furnished with antiques of the period down to the tiniest details. My kids were enthralled and they are not always that big into museums(!). There were cowboy hats and belts to try on, Pilgrim father hats, and an amazing installation where you could design a quilt by touch screen whereby it was projected across the room (cue two of my children trying to cover themselves (virtually) in the quilt designed by the third!).

The highlight for me is up in the large light filled studio on the top floor where some of the museums collection of antique quilts are displayed, and rotated. I visited the V&A Quilts 1700-2010 exhibition earlier in the spring, which i loved. But I absolutely adored the American Museum collection. Sitting in a sunlit bay window seat, in a beautiful room, looking at amazing quilts, it was an afternoon of bliss! The quilts are displayed in large frames, you can get so close and really study how they are made which is so nice to be able to do. You aren't allowed to take photographs so I have no pics to show you, but I bought the guide book i would really recommend it even if you can't visit the museum as it is such a great read. It takes each quilt and talks extensively about the methods of its construction etc, but more than that it tells you how it came to be in the museum. I just love hearing the stories of how these quilts came to be found.
So home we came, back to school and work, much restored and full of ideas! I hope you had a nice holiday week or weekend too.